Haircut event helps stylists who helped their community

NORWICH, Vt. (WCAX) Most of us went for months without getting a haircut during the pandemic when salons and barbershops shut down. Those businesses took a huge hit. Our Adam Sullivan found a community that some might may say is a cut above the rest because of how they're helping a pair of stylists known for their own generosity.

Music fills the air Friday afternoon outside the Dan & Whit's General Store in Norwich. The parking lot has temporarily been turned into a hair salon and the cuts don't come cheap.

"One-hundred-and-fifty-three dollars," said T. Swayze of Norwich.

The money raised at this haircut-a-thon is supporting two businesses in town-- Andrea's Hair Studio and Diane's Casual Cuts. Both were forced to close for months during the pandemic.

"And that is why I bid quite substantially higher than the haircut costs," Swayze said.

"I was depressed and I couldn't pay my rent and I couldn't pay Laura and I couldn't pay my health insurance," said Diane Coley of Diane's Casual Cuts.

"We never know when we are going to be that person who doesn't have the food, who doesn't have the housing, who doesn't have the jobs and it can happen overnight," said Dan Fraser, who owns Dan & Whit's.

Fraser organized the event. Twenty people ended up bidding for a cut. They all got a seat in a chair.

"We are all in this together and I think this whole pandemic has brought that to light," Fraser said.

But these two stylists already knew that. Every December during the 19 Days of Norwich community fundraising event, the business owners donate part of their revenues to the Upper Valley Haven, a community outreach organization that supports low-income people.

"There is a lot of people who are struggling in this community, a lot of people who don't have food or shelter," said Andrea Marquay of Andrea's Hair Studio.

Over the last seven years, Marquay and Coley have raised $100,000 for the Haven. But on this day, it was the nonprofit that was actually making a donation to the hair-cutting cause.

"And when the Haven can give back to people who have done so much for us, we are just delighted to be there," said Laura Gillespie of the Upper Valley Haven.

Nonperishables for the Haven's food pantry were also being collected at the event. Emotions ran high.

"It's overwhelming to me," Marquay said. "It's very emotional."

"It means the world to me because I didn't think I was going to be able to survive," Coley said.

The event is expected to raise north of $3,000 which will go directly back into the two ladies' pockets. A community coming full circle to help those when they need it.